Saturday, January 2, 2010

WJC Quarterfinal Preview: USA VS. Finland & Russia VS. Switzerland

Here's a look at what to expect later on today for the WJC Quarterfinals as we begin the knockout round brackets today.

For the USA, they have had a tendency to let down after big loses, the last 2 years especially. In the 2008 tournament, after going unbeaten in group play, the USA had a huge loss to Canada in the semifinals where the team never looked the same as they struggled against Russia to claim the Bronze Medal Game. Team USA later lossed that game to finish 4th that year.

Then last year, it was a loss against Canada in the final Group Stage game where they entered the Quarterfinal where Slovakia pulled off one of the biggest upsets in recent WJC memory where the Slovaks went on to almost beat Sweden in the Semifinal. Today, they will play Finland where they coming off a 7-1 thrashing of Sweden where despite the loss, they were still able to finish 3rd in Group B ahead of the Czech Republic to avoid being in the relegation round for the 2nd straight year.

About Finland

The Finns have a strong team that will throw everything it can towards team USA Goalie Jack Campbell. The trouble for the Finns has been getting the puck in the net where they are tied for 2nd in the tournament with 185 shots, but is converting only at a 8.11 scoring precent which is just 15 goals.

This failure could have turned losses against Sweden and Russia to wins. Against Group Winner Sweden, Finland out shot their rivals 26-3 in the first period, but didn't score. In fact, the Swedes scored the only goal of the period which eventually lead to a 7-1 win.

Expect the Finnish Offense to throw every shot possible here in this game tonight.

About Russia VS. Switzerland

Switzerland will play in the afternoon game today at 4:00 PM before the USA VS. Finland Game. The winner will play Canada in tomorrow's Semifinal. Switzerland is the heavy underdog here, but they have played much better since the USA Game back on December 27.

A strong top line, a great goaltender and have all the ingredients to rock the boat. Can they have enough to upset the Russians, my pick is no. It will be Sweden VS. USA & Canada VS. Russia as the top 4 Junior Teams in the World will round out the tournament to play for the Medals on January 5.

Relegation Round

It just became final just a little while ago as Slovakia improved their chances of staying in the WJC for 2011 as the Slovaks beat Austria 3-2 to put them in front of the relegation Round Standings with 6 points while Austria despite it's best game of the tournament faces relegation as they have no points and a -7 GD in the relegation round in this game and in the game against the Czech Republic where they lost 7-1.

Tomorrow, it will be Czech Republic VS. Latvia at 12:00 Noon in Saskatoon as a Czech Win would send both Latvia and Austria down to the 2011 U20 Division 1 Tournament.

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